August 25, 2014

Heeding the Inner Prodding

A handful of weeks ago I found myself at our local library picking up orders and perusing shelves like I do nearly each week. But that day was different. The specific branch of our city library I tend to visit is located in what's considered a nice neighborhood, surrounded by houses the spell out middle to upper class families to onlookers clearly. I was totally caught off guard to see him sitting in the farthest corner of the children's section, hunched over, weeping, muttering to himself words in a foreign language I do not know. I spotted his bags at the end of an aisle a few feet away in a poor attempt to hide them I believe.

I didn't go over to him, but I hovered in a section of a library I normally don't visit, pretending to read the titles off of book spines. Nothing in me cared about Beatrix Potter in those moments though. All I could think about was him. He didn't appear to be that old, but his red eyes, and sweaty clothes (it was in the 90's outside) spoke of an exhaustion no man should know at such a young age. All I could think about was the wrecking the Holy Spirit was doing in me.

I ended up leaving after nearly a half hour of briefly scanning picture books. I left and wept in my car, and still have a hard time not crying when I see his face in my head weeks later. I've hated the feelings, the thoughts, the questions that God's been prodding me with since then, because people, I SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING.

I should have called someone from church who'd be equipped to help him. I should have rummaged through my car for granola bars or gone up the street to buy him a meal. I should have given him the cash that I had sitting in my wallet at the bottom of my purse. I should have had the guts to look him in the eyes, smiled, and said good morning--I should have had  at the very least acknowledged his existence and presence in that moment, because there's no telling how many people have just overlooked and ignored him.

I should have known better. While I've never been homeless myself, I've found myself in some scary financial situations before, and they were just enough to give me a small taste of what others have to go through in a far greater weight and reality. (I'm not claiming I understand such a position fully, so don't read into that that I'm comparing my situations to theirs... but I do know a bit about the kind of fear and depression that descends over a person and their life in the midst of hardship. We're different, but alike too.)

And I should have heeded the Holy Spirit's voice telling me to do something in that half hour.

But I didn't, and it's made me physically ill every time I think of the scene. It's one of the worst feelings ever, and it's teaching me never to ignore that inner prodding again. I hope and pray--beg--I listen and act next time (as well as be better prepared). And I hope we all do this: Open our eyes, listen, and act. That we learn to be hands and feet of Jesus towards all.


  1. Your last words: "Open our eyes, listen, and act . . . to be hands and feet of Jesus toward all" SO true. I have done the same and was overcome with guilt that I should have done something. May your words be a constant prayer that challenges you, me, and others to be open to boldly taking steps to serve even when it is uncomfortable. Thank you for your humility and honesty in writing this!

    1. Hope it challenges the both of us Elle!

  2. Natalie, I can not tell you how much your story touches me. I am sorry that you were faced with this situation, but then again I am starting to realize that we are all at one time or another put in such positions. Thankfully our Father knows our hearts and He knows how truly moved you are. There will be other opportunities, I am sure, and you will certainly be encouraged by your feelings at this moment. I wish I could say I have helped everyone I have ever seen, but I too have not always stepped up and followed through. It is something you do not forget and it does give you strength to move more quickly at the first chance you have the next time. Thank you for being so open and sharing.


Thanks for leaving me your thoughts, comments, and encouragements! =) I do monitor every comment I get so that I can comment back as much as possible.

Any comments I personally deem as inappropriate or disrespectful (and any spam) will be trashed.